Michael Bentine CBE - The Goon That Got Away. 1922 - 1996
"In my life I have found myself facing many doors. Some I have opened, only to shut them in terror.
Others have opened for me, and I have seen much sorrow and pain. Some I have not had the courage to open."
-Michael Bentine, The Door Marked Summer
One-time member of The Goons, RAF intelligence officer, scientist, parapsychologist, radio and TV star, humourist and raconteur, Michael was an extraordinary man - a comic genius whose humour bordered on the barmy, and whose zany appeal is timeless.
Born in Watford on Jan 26th, 1922, he was educated at Folkestone and Eton College, studied engineering and joined the Royal Air Force. He was offered a commission in British Intelligence, and saw the war out assisting in the liberation of the Belsen concentration Camp.
After the war, he decided to abandon his studies and pursue his interest in comedy, working with and writing for such greats as Dick Emery, Clive Dunn, Ed Sullivan and Marty Feldman. In 1946 he teamed up with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe and, with them, began to develop the bizarre Goons scripts, and then performed with them for the BBC. He worked with them for two years until 1952, when increasing tension between himself and Spike helped him come to a reluctant decision - to leave the Goons.
Following this, he devoted himself to his writing for children "from 1 to 93", and a number of television shows, including It’s a Square World and Potty Time. He also continued to lecture on parapsychology and the 'powers of the mind', continuing an interest sparked off by his Peruvian father. His books include Open Your Mind: The Quest for Creative Thinking, an autobiography Door Marked Summer and The Reluctant Jester
A hugely talented man, his versatility knew few bounds. He was a master swordsman, linguist (he spoke five languages fluently), accomplished archer and student of Yoga. His humour showed itself in all areas of life - he strove always and everywhere to surprise and entertain - for example, he once spent the duration of a train journey standing on his head whilst conversing with his fellow passengers.
He was decorated by the President of Peru (in 1971 he received the Peruvian Order of Merit for his work during the 1971 earthquake relief operations) and Elizabeth II (he received a CBE in 1995 for Services to Entertainment).
He died of prostate cancer in 1996.